Chester and Africa

November 27 2014

Real Billings (see last post).

Chester, His Majestie’s Clerkes, Paul Hillier; words by Billings; the hymn that became a marching song for the Continental Army:

“Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And slav’ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England’s God forever reigns.

Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton too,
With Prescot and Cornwallis join’d,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal league combin’d.

When God inspir’d us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc’d,
Their ships were shatter’d in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.

The foe comes on with haughty stride;
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
And gen’rals yield to beardless boys.

What grateful off’ring shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Halleluiahs let us sing,
And praise his name on ev’ry chord.”

___

Africa, same performers; words by Isaac Watts; Billings published the original version in 1770 in his hymn book The New England Psalm Singer, but revised and reprinted it in 1778 in The Singing Master’s Assistant, and then after later revisions in Music in Miniature in 1779; this appears to be the first version:

“Now shall my inward joys arise,
And burst into a song;
Almighty love inspires my heart,
And pleasure tunes my tongue.

God on his thirsty Sion’s hill
Some mercy-drops has thrown,
And solemn oaths have bound his love
To show’r salvation down.

Why do we then indulge our fears,
Suspicions and complaints?
Is he a God, and shall his grace
Grow weary of his saints?

Can a kind woman e’er forget
The infant of her womb,
Amongst a thousand tender thoughts
Her suckling have no room?

Yet, saith the Lord, should nature change,
And mothers monsters prove,
Sion still dwells upon the heart
Of everlasting love.

Deep on the palms of both my hands
I have engrav’d her name;
My hands shall raise her ruin’d walls,
And build her broken frame.”

St Anne (old post).

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